Miri: A Paranormal Romance (Plenty of Shift Book 1) (5 page)

BOOK: Miri: A Paranormal Romance (Plenty of Shift Book 1)
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“Yes.”

“Damn.”

Chapter Six

S
he tried
to avoid watching Malcolm work, finding excuses to move about the bedroom that so far housed her bed and little else, bringing blankets and a pillow to the couch so that he could lie down later. But each time she passed him, she inhaled his heavenly scent, which only seemed to be increasing in intensity as he perspired. To navigate around him was difficult; each time she did so she wanted to reach a hand out to touch him. Or, better still, to bite some part of him.

Their inner wildness was one of the things about shifters that had always made her apprehensive, always made her veer towards the human side of things. They were animals—the cougar inside her who was clawing at her insides, wanting out. Wanting to rub itself on his flesh, to claim him with her own scent.

Mine,
the voice inside her screamed.
Mine.

She’d always combatted the animal, trying to tame it, to hold it back. And it wasn’t easy. But things
weren’t
easy for her kind, especially with the gang wars erupting outside these days. Not to mention a boss with a firm prejudice against shifters, and who knew how many other residents of Grayson City hated them? Miri had always gone about her business, only shifting when she couldn’t hold back any longer. It was a craving that needed satisfying on occasion, much like an unrelenting desire for sex.

In spite of her reluctance to show her cat form, though, something made her want to see Malcolm’s bear very, very much.

“When you were in the military, did you shift?” she asked, unable to resist speaking to him as he worked.

“Sometimes. I was in a sort of Special Ops branch, though, so I had to do it minimally. Grizzlies are pretty conspicuous, so it was meant to be reserved for special occasions.”

“So they wanted you for your human form?”

“I guess so,” he said, laughing as he wiped his cheek with the back of his hand and turned to her. “Why? Is my human body inadequate?”

“Oh, it’s very adequate,” she said. “I was just curious. I’m an infrequent shifter, myself.”

Malcolm stepped towards her. “I’d love to see you in your cougar form,” he said. “I’ll bet you’re beautiful. Much as you are right now.”

“You do know how to make me blush.”

“I’m just stating the facts. You’re a gorgeous woman, and whatever that idiot ex of yours did to lose you makes him just about the stupidest man who ever lived.”

“Well, thank you. But I’m so much better off without him.” She ran a hand through her hair. “For one thing, I would never have met you.”

Had those words really come out?
Stupid, Miri. Stupid. Stop encouraging him.

“Thank you,” he chuckled. “But I’ll just assume that you’re currently kicking yourself inside for saying that and get back to work here. I’m nearly done.”

Malcolm was painting the drywall around the frame where the mirror would be inserted. He’d done amazing work, and the room now looked as though it had always been set up this way.

“That looks incredible,” said Miri as she watched him pop the two-way mirror into its frame. Wandering into the office, she took a look into the living room from the other side. She could see Malcolm’s torso as he worked, as clearly as though there were no glass there at all. But when she wandered back into the living room, the pane simply looked like a normal mirror, reflecting her—and him—back at her.

“This is as high-tech as I get,” she laughed. “We’ll be hanging a sign outside to let people know they’re in the right place, but that’s it. Talk about grassroots.”

“Shifters like grassroots,” he said. “It’s in our nature to be…natural.” The last word was uttered with a tinge of sexiness, as were so many of his words. And in that moment, Miri couldn’t help but picture him naked.
Au naturel.

She sat on the couch and poured him a glass of wine. “I think you’re done. Come on, have a seat. I’ve got your couch-bed all set up and everything.”

“Okay. Just give me one second.”

Malcolm wandered into the bathroom for a moment, ostensibly to wash the excess paint and dust off his hands. But as soon as he’d shut the door, he splashed cold water over his face. This woman—everything about her—was sending him into a state of perpetual arousal. Cold water was the only conceivable antidote, other than leaving. And that wasn’t an option; not while he could spend time in her company.

“All right, then,” he said as he made his way into the living room towards her and accepted the glass. “Thanks.”

They drank their wine and talked. Before long they’d made their way through two bottles with no sign of finishing their conversation. Mostly they chatted about their childhoods; Miri’s, which had been spent in denial of her shifter genes, Malcolm’s spent learning to fight, to be an athlete and to romp around with his family members.

“Do you like fighting?” Miri asked with trepidation. There was only one answer that she wanted to hear, and any other one would seal this deal for eternity.

Malcolm looked into her eyes. “No,” he said. “I hate it. I hate hurting people.”

Miri wondered if that came from his time in the military, and if it applied to women’s hearts as well as men’s faces.

“I only ever fought with my brothers as a kid—grizzlies learn to spar pretty early.”

“You have brothers?” Miri asked.
Holy hell. That would be something to see.

“Three,” he said. “My father is a happy man.”

“I’ll bet. And me, an only child.”

“But
what
a child.” He eased towards her for a moment, as though testing the air about her body to see if it would push him away. It didn’t. “What a woman,” he added softly. With one hand he swept a lock of brown hair away from her face.

Oh God,
thought Miri.
What do I do? I like this guy. I mean, I really like him. He’s got potential.
So no fucking one night stands.

She pulled back, trying to shut off her olfactory sense to avoid being more lured in by his scent. Even though she knew perfectly well that he could smell what he was doing to the place between her legs. He knew, no doubt, how much she wanted him.

“Behave,” she said quietly, not certain if she meant it.

“I’m being very well-behaved, Miri. You don’t even know.”

“If this is you behaving, I’d hate—or love—to see you not behaving.”

Malcolm eased closer to her, his eyes locking on her own as she felt herself cease breathing for a moment.

He spoke in quiet, slow tones, his words stroking her flesh as though his fingers were on her, slipping along every erogenous zone on her body in hot, melting streams. He leaned towards her ear, his lips briefly brushing her skin with their softness. “If my male urges had their way, you’d be in my lap right now. Your jeans would be on the floor, and my fingers would be deep inside you. I’d ask you if you liked it. If you wanted more. And then I’d ask if you wanted my tongue or my cock next. Because you can have both, Miri. Any time you want them. I would make you come so hard that you wouldn’t know what hit you.”

All at once she was solid and liquid, petrified to move for fear that she would tear his clothes off and fulfill the wish to fuck him on the dark carpet. Between her legs, a searing ache, her core pleading for her to take him. Her eyes moved to his hands, his fingers—those fingers that she now so wanted deep inside her. How had she not noticed how long they were, how thick?

She found her face turning away, her neck going hot as the image made its way through her mind’s eye.

“I can’t,” she said, backing away. “I’m so sorry. I want to….you don’t even know how much.”

“It’s okay.” Malcolm stood up, as though to say
it’s over now.
“I’m sorry. I was too forward—I didn’t mean to upset you. I should probably go.”

“No. Please don’t,” she said, putting a hand on his forearm. A surge of energy shot into her, seemingly from his skin’s surface itself. More chemistry—more wetness in her panties. “Please stay. I want you to. I would feel guilty if I let you drive home after all that wine.”

“All right. I’ll stay.” He sat back down.

“I’ll clean up,” said Miri. She took the two empty glasses and brought them to the kitchen before heading to the bathroom to grab him a clean towel. As she entered the living room, Malcolm was removing his t-shirt. Once again, there was the scar on his chest from his damaged heart. A damaged heart that could no doubt use some tenderness. And around it was a big, beautiful, perfect man.

Miri found herself emitting a regretful sigh as she handed over the towel.

“Did you say something?” he asked.

“Hmm? I…no.”

“Ah, okay. I’ll see you in the morning?”

“You will,” she said.

“Good.”

M
iri rose at 6
:30 a.m., which wasn’t uncommon for her. She liked to bide her time preparing for work, arming herself with extra strong coffee and a few moments of deep breathing before facing Mr. Lech. If shifters did yoga, now would be the time.

But she got up more sleepily than usual, looking around the room. Dressed only in a long t-shirt and panties, she wandered down the short hall to the bathroom. After a quick shower she remembered that all her clothing was in the office. Well, that was fine. She’d simply shut the door and dress in there.

She darted out in a towel and peeked around the corner to look into the living room. Seeing that Malcolm was still sleeping on the couch, she dashed into the office and shut the door. Even if he did wake up, he’d only see a reflection of himself in the mirror.

Her clothing, at least, was sorted into tidy piles: pants, skirts, tops, undies, bras. Perfect.

Miri let the towel drop to the floor and, bending over, picked up a black lace bra. She examined it for a second before straightening her body to an upright position and pulling it on. Then black panties, a skirt, a top.

And that was when she saw the mirror that was sitting propped against the wall in the corner. That was odd—she didn’t recall owning a second mirror like that. Unless…

With utter horror, her eyes moved to the wall that separated the office from the living room, and she realized that the two-way mirror was no longer in its frame.

And, what was far worse, Malcolm was standing in the living room directly opposite her, his eyes fixed on her body.

Holy shit. How long had he been looking at her?

He turned away quickly. Oh, God, he must have just gotten up. And for once,
he
was the one whose face had gone a deep shade of crimson. How much had he seen? She’d bent over…with her ass towards him. Oh, God. She may as well have just walked over and sat on his face.

“I’m so sorry,” she heard him say. “I realized last night that I hadn’t properly secured the glass and I didn’t want it falling out. I was going to fix it this morning…I didn’t know that you’d…”

She walked out and stood in the doorway after she’d tucked in her blouse, her arms crossed over her chest.

“I’m so sorry,” he repeated.

He stood before her in nothing but a pair of cotton boxers. And as her eyes moved down his front, Miri put her hand over her mouth, her jaw going slack as she took in the incredible view. Well, it seemed that now they were even.

Malcolm’s rigid, thick cock was jutting out of the waistband of his boxer shorts, pointing directly towards his navel. And it seemed that he was unaware of it.

Holy shit.
He was huge. Bigger than any man she’d ever been with.

She turned away, wordlessly and rapidly moving towards her room as Malcolm looked down and realized what she’d just seen.

“Shit!” he said, doing his best to tuck himself back into the inadequately sized garment. Jesus, that woman made all his clothing seem too small.

“It’s safe to come out now,” he said when he’d grabbed a large cushion off the couch and thrust it over his still-raging erection.

“Are you sure? Your…body…looked like it wanted to attack me.”


Attack
isn’t exactly the word I’d use. Though I’d be lying to say that it didn’t want to do all sorts of other things to you,” he said without further apology.

She came out again and walked up to him, extending a hand in truce. “I think we’re even,” she said simply.

He held onto the cushion with his left hand as he shook hers with his right.

“Fair enough,” he said.

“Coffee?”

“Yes, please. And, by the way, Miri—in case there’s any doubt in your mind whatsoever—you have a beautiful, beautiful body.”

Miri smiled as she turned her back on him.

“Thanks.”
And so do you.

T
he coffee was
drunk largely in silence; not so much out of the awkwardness of what had just occurred as the fact that they’d each said so much last night. By now, each of them knew that they found the other attractive. But, for Miri at least, it was a bad idea to allow that attraction to grow into anything more.

“I put the mirror back in,” said Malcolm. “It should be more secure now. Again, I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay. Just an accident.”

“So,” he said, quickly changing the subject, “if you’re starting up this business from home, am I to assume that you’re not so fond of your job?”

“The job is okay,” said Miri. “The boss, on the other hand, is a sexist, misogynistic asshole.”

“Do you need me to go all grizzly on his ass? I’ve been known to take down men on occasion.”

“Only if you’re into castration. He’s a piece of work. I can’t get out of his office soon enough.”

“I see. Well, for what it’s worth, I’m sorry that you have to put up with him.”

“Thanks,” said Miri, smiling. “I can handle him. It’s just too bad he signs the paycheques.”

They sat in silence for a moment, tension creating a barrier between them that neither dared break down.

“Miri…” Malcolm said at last.

“Mmm?”

“Nothing.” He seemed to think better of whatever he was about to say. “Just, thanks for the coffee.”

“Thanks for setting my living room up to look like something out of a police thriller.”

“Anytime.”

Malcolm stood, putting his empty cup down. “I’m going to take off, go home and shower now. Probably a cold shower. I’ll have to consider adding a couple of ice cube trays to the mix.”

BOOK: Miri: A Paranormal Romance (Plenty of Shift Book 1)
11.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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